I got a serious case of cultural whiplash last night, going from a city council meeting in
meek mild Meadowlakes, to a writer’s meeting in downtown tie-died hair, pierce-every-orifice Austin.
Meadowlakes is a buttoned-down little suburb of Marble Falls, with manicured trees and pedicured lawns, and the biggest controversy on council agenda was whether or not they should make two streets into one-way thoroughfares—which after some impassioned pleas by citizens who live along those streets, council chose to abide by the wishes of their neighbors, and the streets of Mayberry with Money will remain the same.
Then it was off to Austin, down the yellow-brick road of Red Bud Trail, which, at its summit is one of the most stunning, sparkling, evening vistas of the Emerald City.
My breath always catches as I crest that hill, and I found myself wondering once again, why the hell did I move away from Austin?
Journeying through Westlake, Austin’s answer to Meadowlakes, and into Zilker Park, I was treated to the cornucopia of culture that helps make Austin Weird.
Two men in very short shorts were riding together on one very small Moped. A guy in a thong was happily riding a bicycle and a woman was walking—I’m not making this up—a rat (the four-legged furry kind, not the lousy ex-boyfriend kind).
Ah, I smiled to myself, The prodigal writer had returned home!
I pulled into Book People, a happenin’ hipster book store to meet with my long lost writing buddies, and parked, rather smugly, in a “compact car only” space—you never see those west of the city, and I hightailed it into the three-story Mecca of media.
Of course, there are books in the store, but there are also items that might not have made it onto your shopping list—a stack of collapsible shoes, a pile of bio-degradable underwear and magnets with sayings like, “Well behaved women seldom make history,” and, “Of course it hurts, you’re getting screwed by an elephant.”
Even the bathrooms encourage a kind of organized uprising, and patrons paint the walls with book reviews and quotes from Byron and Goethe, all surrounding a placard asking folks to remember that children use the restroom, with an entreaty to keep all stall art G-rated.
The proprietors did everything but supply bathroom guests with Sharpie Markers and a thesaurus.
I had a wonderful time with my writing buddies, and it was good to be back–the girls are all busy with their writing lives, all still beautiful and smart and funny, and I got the familiar pang of writer-home-sick, which I always get when I’ve been away too long.
I’d made up my mind. A year is far too long to be away from my talented scribbling compatriots, and even though I now live 70 miles from the last bastion of creative, card-carrying liberal Texans, I hope to make it back on a regular basis.
Leaving my writer buds to head for the McDonald’s on Riverside to borrow some wi-fi to file a story for the paper before midnight, I wondered once again why on earth I would move so far away from such a colorful, creative city?
I filed the story, got a sweet tea, and as I made my way back out to the car, a man who looked an awful lot like a jittering, half-crazed Jesus jumped out at me from behind the drive through and screamed, “I’m a sex machine! I’m a sex machine!”
“How nice for you,” I said, and hurried into my car and locked the door.
As my heart settled and I revved into reverse, the guy was still ranting at me regarding his sexual prowess.
“Oh, yeah,” I muttered. “That’s why I moved.”